At the Paris Auto Show in October 1963 Ferrari and Pininfarina displayed a new Ferrari GT car, destined to replace the 250GTO as a Ferrari race winner. This was the 250LM, a rear-engined three liter GT car which Ferrari tried, unsuccessfully, to have homologated as an extension of the 250GT series. Because the 250LM was only somewhat different, being a closed car, from Ferrari’s 250P open prototype which had won at Le Mans in 1963, had Ferrari achieved that homologation it would have been a real win. As soon as it became apparent that the 250LM would have to run as a prototype, Ferrari increased the engine size to 3.3 liters, as they had done with the 250P. These modified 250LMs were sometimes referred to as 275LMs, but that was purely an informal designation. Even this first 250LM got a 275 motor pretty quickly.
The first 250LM, chassis number 5149, was clearly a prototype for this new model, having been largely constructed at Pinifarina with a frame that was subtly different from the later versions of the model. Once this car had completed its auto show introductions, it was sold to Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team in early 1964. It appeared first at Daytona and then at Sebring where it caught fire early in the race and was severely damaged. Rebuilt, it appeared at Daytona again two years later before being sold by Chinetti as a road car. In that guise, 5149 caught fire again on the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut and was again badly damaged.
Now comes one of those strange Ferrari tales. There is a 250LM today bearing the number 5149. However, it is pretty well accepted that this is not the original 5149 but a replacement car. The original chassis and engine are with an American collector who received the remains of 5149 many years ago. Will the real 5149 reappear someday?
Photo by Ami Guichard ©The Klemantaski Collection